Posts Tagged healthy diet

Sweet Potato and Nut Butter Snack

Early morning Qigong sessions three times a week are energizing and really get my day off to a good start. It took me a while to figure out footwear – sandals, sneakers, or bare foot. I settled on some sneakers with plenty of toe room.

Did I want to eat before class or not? Just coffee, even with a goodly amount of coconut milk left me with a grumbling stomach by the end of the hour, not to mention the urge to eat the first available edible in the kitchen. Having a Breakfast Salad or a Smoothie in a Bowl produced internal gurgling sounds that I feared were amplified by the acoustics in our meeting room.

Several weeks ago a dear friend attended the annual East Texas Yamboree Festival  in Gilmer, Texas and acknowledging our shared love of all things sweet potato she brought me several freshly harvested sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a major crop in that area and if you are interested in some really decadent recipes you can find a couple at Tex Tater’s Home Page.

I love these golden gems pretty much straight up but a long time favorite mid-morning snack when I was working consisted of half of a small baked sweet potato garnished with cinnamon sugar and peanut butter. (That really helped to keep me out of the office donut box!)

You can ‘bake’ a sweet potato in the microwave – which works better if the sweet potatoes have dried out somewhat and do not contain a lot of moisture that steams up the microwave to the extent that opening the door rains moisture on your feet. Fresh sweet potatoes in the oven – oh my – the juices run out (don’t forget to pierce them like white potatoes) and caramelize on the pan!

Sweet Potato & Nut Butter Snack

Sweet Potato & Nut Butter Snack

For my early morning mini-snacks I scoop 2-3 tablespoons of roasted sweet potato on to a plate, sprinkled cinnamon and sweetener, and added about a tablespoon of nut butter. I alternate between organic peanut butter and organic almond butter. Mashed together with a salad fork it doesn’t win a beauty contest so for a decent picture I scooped the mixture into a 3-ounce ramekin and took a quick picture before devouring all of it. A recipe looks something like this:

Ingredients for 1 serving:
3 tablespoons of roasted sweet potato
1.5 tablespoons nut butter (peanut or almond)
2-3 shakes of ground cinnamon
1 packet of your favorite non-nutritive sweetener of your choice
(really – sweet potatoes have enough sugar and you may not need any)
(a monster sweet-tooth like mine needs it)

Method:
Mash the sweet potato. Then mash in the nut butter. Add the cinnamon and sweetener as the mixture is coming together.
Put in a small container with a secure lid for transport or eat it right away :-)

One large roasted sweet potato will make enough for several days so it may work better for your schedule to mix up the whole roasted sweet potato and portion it out into servings. Knowing full well that I would eat it all at once I make one serving at a time. That is my version of ‘portion control’ that works for me.

Sweet potatoes are in season. If you like them and/or your family likes them consider this as a highly nutritious budget friendly alternative to packaged options.

Gretchen @gfedge

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend, November 7-11, 2013
http://www.rickiheller.com/2013/11/wellness-weekend-november-7-11-2013/
at Ricki Heller.com

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Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free

Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free

Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free

Ricki Heller’s delightful publication, Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free, is a recipe book of gourmet treats that just happens to be nutritious, allergy-adaptable food. ABC News featured article in their Lifestyle section was titled Gluten-Free Desserts You Have to Taste to Believe and the recipes from this book that are shared in the article will make you a believer!

Ricki means every word when she says; ‘I have taken great care to ensure that every recipe you make from this book will taste just as good as a traditional dessert — and some, even better! Yet not one of them contains gluten, eggs, dairy, or refined sugars, and all have a lower glycemic index than “regular” desserts.’

Scanning the recipes I chose this Grain-Free Autumn Fruit Crumble for the great fruit combination plus I had all of the necessary ingredients on hand – it was fate! The apple-cranberry-pear juices bubbled up through the cinnamon spiced crumble topping and I thought ‘a small bowl for dessert tonight and a larger one for breakfast tomorrow’. Who hasn’t had (or wanted) dessert for breakfast?

Breakfast or Dessert - How About Both!

Breakfast or Dessert – How About Both!

Ricki Heller is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) who understands the effects that food choices can have on health and we reap the benefits of her knowledge in this, her latest book. All of the pantry staples have been carefully, thoughtfully chosen and described in detail as to the pros and cons of why they were chosen. Her All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix is described in the book but was shared long ago on her blog. If you cannot find the recommended millet flour locally you can order it on Amazon when you purchase the book – it is quite reasonable as gluten-free flours go.

The focus of these recipes is on eliminating the dreaded ‘sugar/carb craving’ by using real nutrient-dense foods, low-glycemic sugars, and further reducing the glycemic load by tweaking the sweetness with a bit of stevia. The introduction is packed with tips and techniques to ensure that each recipe performs for you. There is additional information regarding agreeable substitutions to adapt the recipes for you or your family members’ allergies.

This book is too good not-to-share and since I have family members who are gluten-free (ahh, genetics) I have ordered several more of these books.

Gretchen @gfedge

Note: If you missed out on Ricki’s first book, Sweet Freedom, it is now available on her website as an eBook. Those recipes are not gluten-free but the All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix can be substituted in equal measure for the original flours.

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Eggplant Over Easy

It has been REALLY edgy around here lately and I haven’t felt adventurous in the kitchen. I have cooked; mostly tried and true recipes which have already been posted. I am not holding back on recipes to publish a cook book. Blogging is challenge enough for me and my recipes are posted on the website whenever I think they may be of interest.

In the spirit of health and green living Rita and I have started paying way more attention to vegetables as well as eating local and fresh. Both of us have been enjoying salads all along. But I am now looking more into easy preparation of cooked vegetables while Rita is focusing on smoothies through her association with Green Smoothie Girl.

Savory Eggplant

Savory Eggplant

This dish made with fresh eggplant has been especially enjoyable. It goes together quickly in the morning before the heat of the day sets in and once it is cooked it can stay put in the oven, slowly cooling, until you are ready for it. It can handle more or less seasoning than suggested. If you have fresh garlic and/or basil then use them. If you plan to use this mixture as a sauce for other ingredients then really season it up and add more olive oil to it. This gets even better in the refrigerator as the flavors meld.

Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Savory Seasoning

Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Savory Seasoning

Ingredients:

1 eggplant, about 1 lb

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon dry basil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 can peeled & diced tomatoes (Muir Glen)

Set the oven to 350*F.
Add the olive oil to the bottom of a 9” square pan, preferably oven-proof glass. Add the salt, basil, and garlic to the oil.
Peel and dice the eggplant into bite-size pieces and add them to the oil in the pan. Stir the mixture so that the eggplant absorbs the oil and is coated with the seasoning.
Pour the entire can of tomatoes and juice over the eggplant and mix thoroughly.
Move the pan to the oven and bake for one hour. Stir about halfway through. Turn off the heat and leave the residual heat to evaporate much of the moisture from the vegetables.

This creates a very concentrated, savory eggplant mixture that can be used alone as a vegetable side dish or mixed with pasta, beans, or potatoes for a savory main course. It is also tasty served cold with or without salad greens.

Having nutritious food readily available helps to take the edge off when there are nerve-wracking days. We had recently had the air conditioning unit replaced (it is a rule that they will fail only in the hottest of weather) which was unsettling enough. But the changeable Texas weather also brought storms that did bad things to the roof – so three weeks later we were having a complete roof replacement.

 

Roofing Incident

Roofing Incident

The roofing supervisor guy had warned us about wall hangings, pictures, etc. that might need to be taken down before the pounding started. We thought we were prepared. The team stripping the old roof sounded like a pack of large squirrels running across the roof – not too bad. When the pounding started it was right in the corner of the office over my computer.

I had just sat down with breakfast and picked up the mouse. The roofers started nailing at that very moment. The big wooden Texas clock fell, hit the golf display, golf balls went flying, clock continued and hit my lidded ceramic jar containing wires, flash drives, etc. smashing it onto pieces, hitting my hand, golf balls bounced off my head. I am not sure what hit my breakfast bowl but it ended up on the floor, undamaged but containing a golf ball instead of my breakfast that was scattered on the floor. The clock was on the floor on the other side of my chair separated from its battery. I was unharmed but in a befuddled state of shock.

The roof looks good, the air conditioning works fine, and I have been inspired to use the cool mornings to do some maintenance on the flower beds. Chigger and ant bites, sore muscles from weeding and planting have done more collective damage to me physically than the roofing excitement.

Here’s to calm days ahead and good food ready and waiting for lunch and/or dinner :-)

Gretchen @gfedge
Rita @catqicatqi

This post is linked to:
http://dietdessertndogs.com/2013/07/25/wellness-weekend-july-25-29-2013/
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Cheese’ Biscuits – Grain-free and Vegan

Low-carb baked goods, gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan sounds like an impossible task; and of course we want it to be delicious too! No wonder I haven’t blogged a lot lately when I set nearly impossible goals.

I made an awesome recipe for Cheddar Bay Almond Flour Biscuits (from Dianne at Delicious As It Looks) several times and everyone who tried them raves about them. Since they are gluten-free I didn’t think to offer one to my husband but he followed his nose to the cooling rack and asked ‘are these for anyone’? I was so delighted to share with him. He is slowly discovering that gluten-free food can be as good as or even better than gluten food.

A Dozen Perfect 'Cheese' Biscuits

A Dozen Perfect ‘Cheese’ Biscuits

Friends and family members are increasingly going to plant-based choices and I want to share my baked goodies with them. So I attempt to convert this treasured gluten-free, grain-free recipe to vegan. Vegan has the advantage that it also covers the situation for people who want to avoid eggs or dairy products whatever the reason. I am also happy to discover that vegan baked goods stay fresh longer which is a major advantage when traveling.

A Flatbread Experiment

A Flatbread Experiment

The almond flour that I use is from Honeyville. I order the blanched, 5 lb. bag when they have it on special. It has a finer texture than Bob’s Red Mill from the local grocery store although I use Bob’s when I need a coarser product. I use Bob’s for the coconut flour and golden flax meal in this recipe.

My vegan, smoky, cheesy sauce  prepared in the blender seemed like a good starting place. I modified it to eliminate the home-cooked beans and substituted more cashews. This version is very tasty although very, very dense. I may try a later version using the original cashew, bean, and coconut milk base which has a few more carbs and protein rather than so much fat. Or maybe not, did I mention that this is really tasty?

FYI: You do not need a high powered blender. My blender is about 15 years old, an Oster 10-speed that I use regularly and struggle with it at times. In this recipe it takes about 10-15 minutes to blend the cashews to a silky smooth consistency with constant encouragement from a spatula, scooping the mixture up from the sides, and pushing it towards the middle. We go through all of the speeds right up to 10 before it is done. When it gets to 8 it begins to sound like a single engine aircraft just before takeoff. Yes, the jar gets warm and the motor also. I have previously pushed this blender so hard that it was bucking on the counter and sending out smoke signals. It still hangs right in there with me!

Wet Ingredients
1 cup (150 grams) raw cashews, measured, soaked for an hour or overnight
1/2 cup canned, full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Wright’s Liquid Smoke
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Start with just the cashews and the coconut milk in the blender jar. By the time my cashews were soaked it had been a full day plus overnight in the fridge. They had started sprouting and had soaked up 60 grams of water for a total of 210 grams of drained, soaked cashews.

Start the blender running. It will hiccup and glurp as it works its way from chunks to coarse to smooth. Be prepared with a spatula to encourage it. The salt, garlic powder and liquid smoke seem to help it reach the satiny consistency it needs before adding the yeast which will absorb some of the moisture.

The 4 tablespoons of yeast is equal to 1/4 cup. But you will have to add it very slowly so just be aware. It will also do the hiccupping thing again. This makes about 1.25 cups of wet ingredients.

Dry Ingredients
4 tablespoons (26g) golden flax meal, finely ground
1 tablespoon (7g) coconut flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 1/2 cups (272g) almond flour

Place the oven rack in the middle position. Set the oven between 350 and 400*F (depending on your oven).

My Hamilton Beach Spice Grinder

My Hamilton Beach Spice Grinder

Weigh out the golden flax meal and grind it to a powder using a small coffee grinder reserved for grinding seeds, spices, and coconut palm sugar. This step makes a big difference in the texture of the baked product.

Put all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl – DO NOT SIFT. Almond flour will totally gunk up a sieve so don’t even try. Use a whisk to mix all of the dry ingredients together. The almond flour will continue to lump but it is different lumps as you work so it eventually ends up evenly mixed.

Dump the Wet Mixture into the Dry Mixture

Dump the Wet Mixture into the Dry Mixture

Dump the wet ingredients in with the dry. Stir until well mixed and the dough is holding together. Dump it out on a clean smooth counter top or a non-absorbent cutting board. This dough can be very clingy if there is something rough to cling to.

The Biscuit Dough After Kneading on the Counter

The Biscuit Dough After Kneading on the Counter

Knead it a few times like ordinary bread dough. There is no gluten to ‘develop’ but kneading will distribute the moisture and form a smooth shiny lump of dough. Then it is ready to shape it into biscuits.

Measure & Shape the Biscuit Dough onto the Baking Pan

Measure & Shape the Biscuit Dough onto the Baking Pan

A spring activated scoop is the way I make uniform pieces. Alternately you can use a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measuring cup. Measure out the pieces of dough. Roll the pieces into a ball. Then patty-cake the pieces between your palms, gently shape them, and place them on your baking pan. When all the dough is formed move the pan into the oven.

Note: Baked goods made with starchy gluten-free flours start losing flavor and texture unless eaten soon after they are done. Baked goods made from nutritionally dense gluten-free flours like these improve in texture and flavor over a day or two (much like soup that keeps getting better). I think that’s weird but I am also grateful.

Gretchen @gfedge

PS – I use a small kitchen scale with a tare option to weigh dry ingredients as much as possible. It gives more consistent results plus it saves on cleanup of measuring cups and spoons (lazy me).

This post is linked to:
http://dietdessertndogs.com/2013/05/02/wellness-weekend-may-2-6-2013/
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

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Smoothie in a Bowl

Rita and I have been considering green smoothies as a way to boost our intake of fresh, raw green vegetables. Being a savvy shopper Rita was able to scoop up a smoothie blender for each of us at a super-great clearance – more about those items as we get comfortable with them.

Right now I am juggling a few (too many) activities. To compensate I have been eating a wider variety of greens in salads, greens cooked as a base for some warm winter soups, and I extended my beloved Pumpkin Porridge by adding the additional plant elements of applesauce, ginger, and whole fruit.

I like to prepare this the night before so that the chia is really soft but in a pinch I put it together and declare it edible in about 10 minutes. It gets my system going with a powerhouse of nutrition. This is really helping me to get over the fact that I recently discovered that my beloved coffee, as an almond milk latte, is one of my  ‘cross-reactive with gluten’  foods :-(

This could easily be a smoothie beverage with additional water to dilute the coconut milk. The whole fruit could be blended in if that is your preference. Right now I go for the easiest and fastest preparation – hence ‘Smoothie in a Bowl’.

Smoothie in a Bowl with Blueberries

Smoothie in a Bowl with Blueberries

Top with your locally available fresh fruit. We have had an amazing bounty of blackberries and blueberries at the local fresh food grocer. I also froze fresh local figs last summer and I started using these little gems as a special treat.

Smoothie with Local Figs of Summer

Smoothie with Local Figs of Summer

Gretchen @gfedge
Rita @catqicatqi

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend January 24-28, 2013
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

Smoothie in a Bowl
Print
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Author: Gretchen @gfedge
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 1
A plant-based blend of highly nutritious foods and spices
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 scoop (20 ml) chia seeds (whole)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (full fat, from a can)
  • Vanilla, a few drops
  • Sweetener*, your choice, to taste
  • Fresh fruit, at least 1/4 cup or more
Instructions
  1. Soften the chia seeds in the water – it makes them easier to work with this way.
  2. Add the pumpkin and the spices together – this prevents clumps of floating spices after you add the coconut milk.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  4. I use liquid stevia glycerite but taste buds are so different as to ‘sweet’ you should use what makes it taste good for you.
  5. Top with your locally available fresh fruit.
Notes

*There are non-nutritive sweeteners that are not exactly good for you but I still think the inflammatory property of sugar is the greater evil of alternative choices.

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Traveling Gluten-Free to New Mexico

I’ve been getting better at traveling. This trip was the first one I can remember, ever, without even an upset stomach. Don and I were surprised and gratified that several new strategies seemed to help me remain healthy.

Strategy #1: Stay consistently hydrated throughout the day

Every morning at home I drink about 20 ounces of sweetened café latte made with half coffee, half unsweetened almond milk, vanilla, and sweetener – usually stevia and/or Truvia. We started with 2 quarts of septic-packed Almond Breeze and purchased another along the way so I had my usual morning starter every day.

Breakfasts were at the hotel buffets. There was fruit, hard-boiled eggs, and bacon that I felt was free from gluten and safe to eat. While at breakfast I used my smaller insulated bottle, 14 ounces, to make up a hot café con leche with dark roast coffee from the buffet, Nectresse, a new sweetener that I am really liking, and Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk. Coconut and coconut milk contain compounds that are anti-Candida, soothing and generally healing for the digestive system. I sipped on this mid-morning as we traveled.

My third beverage was based on Ricki’s Almost Instant ‘Kombucha’  (her party recipe is way down that page) that was the inspiration for one of my beverages on this trip. I used two tea bags of different flavors to make double strength tea for two days of beverages. The concentrated tea traveled in our little portable refrigerator that daughter Rita gave me for my birthday one year. To make my daily beverage I poured half of the brewed tea into an insulated bottle, added liquid lemon flavored stevia, apple cider vinegar (quite a bit more than Ricki used), ice, and plain water. It is delightful with carbonated water but drinking bubbly beverages in the car gets burpy, at least for me ;-) . This was my afternoon beverage and the 24 ounces lasted the rest of the day.

Brewing My Faux Kombucha

Brewing My Faux Kombucha

Strategy #2: The usual search for gluten-free food at restaurants (not new)

This proved to be our most successful trip for finding gluten-free restaurants. Two of the restaurants we found were phenomenal – Don’s comment on these two was ‘this should be the norm’. Paisano’s Italian Restaurant in Albuquerque was the first one that we experienced. Joe’s Dining in Santa Fe was the second one. Our experience at both restaurants filled me with hope for the future of dining on gluten-free, simply prepared, fresh food.

Strategy #3: Find a cabin or extended-stay motel with kitchen facilities

In the middle of our trip we spent three days at TownPlace Suites in Farmington, NM. There was a compact kitchen in the suite and we prepared simple dinners after shopping at local grocery stores. Leftovers went into salads for my lunches and Don had lunch meat to make sandwiches. We packed our ‘picnics’ in the cooler and took them on our daytime tours of local attractions. This worked so well that we followed the same pattern on the journey home. While traveling we ate dinner at restaurants but my leftovers (I always have leftovers) became part of lunch the following day. This was a brand new strategy for us and it worked so well – preparing our own simple meals that we will be using this again.

Strategy #4: Use the workout amenities!

We kept up with our workout schedule, for real, not just saying ‘we will’ and then ‘oh, we are too tired’. After a brief rest in our room waiting for breakfast to settle we headed to the fitness center for 30 minutes each day – no excuses and it was done. Then we changed clothes and headed out for the day, whether it was a sightseeing or travel day.

Our Excursions:
In Albuquerque we chose a motel near the historic and charming Albuquerque Old Town. I worked on a project once that sent me and three  clients for training in Albuquerque. In our sparse spare time we became fascinated with driving over to Old Town for lunch and browsing a few more shops each time we went. It has changed but somehow remains the same delightful collection of old buildings, courtyards, fountains, and shops. I scored my ‘souvenir yarn’ in a shop at the end of a little courtyard.

During our stay in Farmington we toured Aztec Ruins National Monument which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site representing part of Chaco Culture. There are only 21 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the United States. You have to see it and walk it to get a feel for the lives of these people. It was one of the most rewarding stops on our trip.

Great Kiva at Aztec Ruins UNESCO Site

Durango, CO – This is just 34 miles North of Farmington and we spent one day just hanging out in the town and wandering through all of the various shops. We have visited the area twice previously. The first time we were on a motorcycle trip and camped at the local KOA campground. Another time we rented a cabin at Vallecito Lake which is nearby and drove into Durango for groceries and shopping. We seem drawn to small hand-crafted animal figures and this time found a charming owl and a box turtle carved in deer horn.

Hand Carved Animal Figurines

Hand Carved Animal Figurines

Lubbock, TX was our last stop on the trip home.  We picked up a brochure about Lubbock from the motel lobby in Santa Fe. That was where we read about Apple Country Orchards in Idalou, TX just outside of Lubbock. Arriving late afternoon we went there first after checking store hours. We were too road weary to pick apples but we bought a gallon of frozen apple cider plus a bag of Pink Lady apples. I have already defrosted the cider and boiled it down to syrup for use in I-don’t-know-which-recipes; it just sounded too good not to try. I’m currently considering apple cobbler for those apples.

Home again, home again, yeah, it RAINED while we were gone – three inches in the rain gauge! Then unpacking, laundry, mail, email, grocery shopping, etc. all of the usual stuff backed up a week. But we are so glad to be home.

Aside from the cider syrup the only thing I have cooked from scratch was the fascinating Soy-Free Tofu described at TRIUMPH OF THE LENTIL. I made the mistake of tasting the batter before cooking it – umm, raw bean :-{. Recklessly I added two tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning and one teaspoon of garlic powder to the basic recipe. It is all spread out on a covered pan in the refrigerator waiting to be cut up and ???? We’ll see. All that I know right now is that I am going to fry some of it to see what that is about.

I did throw together a pantry-based dinner for the two of us (leftovers for the next night as well). A package of Tinkyada shells, a jar of Classico Alfredo Sauce, a pound of frozen green peas, a package of frozen shrimp, and a sprinkle of that Old Bay Seasoning all simmered together in a skillet. We’ve had this before but without the peas, those were Don’s idea. I have to say it was a good idea and we will use it again.

The kitchen counter is stacked up with recipes to modify and notes on how I want to change them. I hope to get started soon but tomorrow is my volunteer afternoon in The Caring Place Food Pantry so I will not be wearing myself out in the morning.

Gretchen @gfedge

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Mediterranean Faux Potato Salad

Or Mediterranean Potato Salad meets Faux Potato Salad and lived happily ever after.

Don’s Yellow Mustard Potato Salad is as basic as possible. It consists of boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, and mustard; if you want salt and pepper then you add it at the table.

The potato salad my Mom made also had pickle relish, celery, and onion – and maybe a few other ingredients that I don’t remember. When I came across Annemarie’s recipe for Mediterranean Potato Salad it triggered the memory of Mom’s potato salad. This salad has more ingredients than I remember, we never had Kalamata olives, but still it was compelling.

I made half of the family size recipe and it lasted me for 4-5 days. Part of the way through Don made his potato salad and I could not offend the ‘Chef’ of our home. Can you say ‘enough with the potatoes already’? Well, not out loud.

Still loving the tangy, red oniony Mediterranean dressing and in carb overload I had the idea to use cauliflower instead of potatoes for a lighter version. So many recipes on the internet for low-carb and/or paleo diets are creating (totally fascinating) ‘faux potato’ recipes with cauliflower so I jumped right in. These salad ingredients are quite different from the original salad but the tangy dressing is the same.

Skillet Grilled Mushrooms and Zucchini

Skillet Grilled Mushrooms and Zucchini

Mediterranean Potato Salad Dressing
Follow the link for the dressing and combine the ingredients as per the original directions.

Mediterranean Faux Potato Salad
Print
Recipe type: Salad, entrée with Walnuts added
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 4
A flavorful combination of seven fresh ingredients combined with a light, tangy olive oil and vinegar type dressing.
Ingredients
  • Mediterranean Faux Potato Salad
  • 1 pound cauliflower florets (mine were frozen)
  • 1 small zucchini, in small bite size wedges*
  • 4 medium or 2 large fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 small organic carrot, very thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Instructions
  1. Cook the cauliflower until it is tender enough to cut with a fork but not a minute longer.
  2. While you are minding the cauliflower prepare the zucchini and mushroom.
  3. Warm a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet and add the chopped zucchini and mushroom with a sprinkle of sea salt.
  4. Sauté lightly until the mushrooms give off some of their flavorful essence and the zucchini takes on the tiniest bit of grilled appearance. Again, tender but not soft, ‘al dente’ like pasta.
  5. Add the carrot, red onion, and tomatoes to a mixing bowl.
  6. Add the other veggies when they are ready.
  7. Pour on the dressing, mix well, cover, and set in the refrigerator for several hours.
  8. The salad improves in flavor for at least three days after which time I cannot tell you; by then it was all gone.

 

A Temporary Distraction in the Neighbor's Yard

A Temporary Distraction in the Neighbor’s Yard

 

Completed and Garnished Salad

Completed and Garnished Salad

It was a side dish for two meals. With the addition of a generous handful of chopped walnuts it was a full meal on another day. Lots of flavor, nourishment, and the happy feeling of being well-fed.

Gretchen @gfedge

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend July 26-30, 2012
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.

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Pan Roasted Red Potatoes with Green Beans

Don is a big softball baseball fan. When we were in California he and Jorge attended THREE games in three days. You would think a fan like that would be really upset when his team loses. It amazes me every time when he says ‘no one can win every game’. He played in, managed, and umpired local league teams for many years. He is what you call a real, and realistic, sportsman.

When my kitchen experiments continued go south for several weeks I thought about his philosophy and tried hard to be accepting. It is very difficult to look at a dozen highly nutritious, very chocolaty but definitely yucky hockey pucks and say ‘you can’t win them all’ . . . . At least I didn’t have to throw out the oatmeal cookie smoothie even though that much cinnamon was hard to swallow – but again, very nutritious :-}

After stepping back for a week or so I decided to pull out a tried-and-true recipe to get back in the groove. I made this family favorite (naturally gluten-free) potato dish for our dinner.

The ingredients are simple but the technique is lengthy. Most of that time, about 1.5 hours, is spent in the slow caramelizing of the potatoes which only requires stirring, heat adjustment, and moisture control. Otherwise you can meditate, bake, do laundry, or catch up on email – some non-strenuous activity that keeps you in the kitchen vicinity. I also use the timer on my cell phone to keep me on track.

Using fresh vegetables is the tastiest option but when you are at the end of the week sometimes that doesn’t work out. I had the red potatoes, no onions at all, and one pound of cut green beans in the freezer. No matter, it came together and was very enjoyable.

Freshly Scrubbed Red Potatoes

Freshly Scrubbed Red Potatoes

I do the potatoes first, wash them,  cut into bite-size pieces and start them in the skillet since they take the longest to cook. I like to leave as much potato peeling as possible but red potato ‘eyes’ are hard to dig out without removing a lot of peeling.

The onions are also cut bite-size and added in to the potatoes so they cook down together.

Fresh green beans can be a mystery. They may look the same as the last batch you purchased that took 20 minutes to be nicely tender and then the next batch takes an hour. Hopefully yours are more reliable in that respect. If the beans cook faster than the potatoes it is OK if they cool down before adding them to the potatoes.

The potatoes and onions are cooked together in a lidded skillet until they are not only browned but have caramelized. The beans are stirred into the potato skillet and re-heated with the potatoes just before serving,

Ingredients for 4-6 servings:
1.5 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed
1 large yellow onion (I substituted generous sprinkles of onion powder)
3 tablespoons cooking oil, organic, your choice
Sea salt for the potatoes

1.5 pounds fresh green beans or
1 pound frozen cut green beans
Sea salt for the green beans
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh minced garlic or garlic powder (a very small amount)
1/16 to 1/8 teaspoon dried savory

Tilted Lid Allows Steam to Escape

Tilted Lid Allows Steam to Escape

Cooking the potatoes:
Begin cooking the potatoes at medium high heat until they (and the onions) start to sizzle. Sprinkle with salt to begin drawing out the moisture. Turn the heat down to medium and stir about every 10 minutes. Keep the lid on the pan to prevent spattering but tilted so steam can escape. When you lift the lid to stir the potatoes, pick the lid straight up, move it to the sink, and tilt it even more so the condensation runs off down the drain. Wipe out the lid and return it to the pan. This process will take well over an hour.

Using this technique you will eventually have potatoes that are nicely browned with the pieces shrinking considerably in size because of the moisture loss. When they look well done and crispy then turn the heat even lower, put the lid firmly on the pan, and allow the potatoes to steam for about 10 minutes. Then you will add the cooked green beans.

Cooking the green beans:
Trim and cut up fresh green beans into 1 to 1.5 inch pieces and put them in a 2-quart saucepan with a few tablespoons of water. If using frozen just pour them into the pan frozen and add a few sprinkles of salt. There is usually enough moisture from blanching and freezing that you would not need additional water. Apply medium heat until steam is visible in the pan. Add in the seasoning, turn the heat down so the beans cook gently; no lid rattling, just a slow, easy simmer. Test occasionally for tenderness. When they are done you can either drain them or allow the juices to evaporate – be careful not to scorch. Remove from the heat so they do not over cook before you are ready to add them to the potatoes.

Combining the potatoes and green beans:
Lift the lid from the potatoes and stir in the green beans. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper (onion powder if needed). Replace the lid on the potato pan and turn the heat up to medium high for about five minutes until the vegetables are uniformly hot and the flavors are blended.

Pan Roasted and Ready to Serve

Pan Roasted and Ready to Serve

Serve steaming hot. This technique results in potatoes that are tender, silky in texture, and with a subtle sweet taste that complements the flavor of the green beans.

Gretchen @gfedge
Finally success and the kitchen losing streak has broken!

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend June 28-July 28
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.

Comments (1)

Marinated Mushrooms

My sister-in-law in Boston is known for her creative cooking. Anne makes wonderful meals and it often seems simple as in this recipe that she makes up as an appetizer.

Marinating for just a few hours turns these raw mushrooms into a tender and tasty treat that is nothing like the raw mushroom that is the base. It is a bonus that they can be made up a day or two early but once you serve them there will not be any leftovers.

The recipe calls for smaller mushrooms but these were huge (this is Texas after all) and so as not to waste any part of them I sliced the stems in half length-wise and cut the caps crossways into 4-5 slices. After marinating they are so flavorful that I did not care about appearance.

Since I am the only mushroom fan in the house I had some of them as an afternoon snack on the first day and the next day topped off a salad with them and finished them off.

Mushrooms, Romaine, Sweet Pepper, and Avocado

Mushrooms, Romaine, Sweet Pepper, and Avocado

Tarragon was my choice of herb since I really like it but usually forget about it. Also the vinegar options in my pantry are white, balsamic, or apple cider. I used the apple cider vinegar thinking that the balsamic vinegar would overwhelm the delicate flavor of the mushrooms.

This was the first time that I used these marinated mushrooms as a salad topper but it won’t be the last. With the salad dressing built-in it should always have been an obvious application.

Mushrooms Plus Marinade

Mushrooms Plus Marinade


Anne’s Marinated Mushrooms:

1 pound, medium fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon tarragon or oregano (dry)
Fresh ground pepper
4 tablespoons of wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil

For each mushroom: Cut off half of the stem, peel (unless nearly white), and cut in half.

Mix the remainder of ingredients to make an oil-and-vinegar salad dressing. Add the dressing to the mushrooms and toss until well coated.

Let stand on the counter for several hours or in the refrigerator for several days.

Gretchen

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend May 31-June 4, 2012
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.

Comments (4)

Half-Baked Potatoes

This is an old family favorite, the direct opposite of ‘twice-baked potatoes’. They are so easy that you really don’t need a recipe; it is more of a technique and we almost forgot about them! The result is a potato that is like a baked potato on top but more like a fried potato on the bottom. That is why we call them ‘half-baked’.

And they are fast – taking half-the-time to cook as for a whole potato. So you can make them when you don’t have the time to bake a whole potato. True, the microwave is faster but these taste better!

This Side is a Fried Potato

This Side is a Fried Potato

Ingredients per serving:
Good quality baking potato
Salt and pepper
Cooking oil

Pre-heat the oven to 375*F. Prepare a baking sheet by coating it with the same cooking oil that you normally use for frying – coconut oil is good..

If your potatoes are super-large then two people can share one; if they are smaller than allow one potato per person.

Cut the potatoes in half as evenly as possible so both sides cook in the same amount of time. Season the cut sides and place cut-side down on your greased pan.

Bake for 30-45 minutes. Test with a fork – they should be easily pierced when done.

Bake the Potatoes Cut-Side Down

Bake the Potatoes Cut-Side Down

Use your favorite potato condiments. I like them fried-side up with just salt; others may prefer catsup. Or turn them skin-side up and serve with your usual baked potato toppings. How easy is that?

Gretchen

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend May 24-28
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.

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